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1969

The Beatles Call It Quits, CSN, Zeppelin and Santana Get Started, and Much More

  (Item #: 1969) 



1969 turned out to be a great year in music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1969.

And HERE to see the records from 1969 that we've reviewed.


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The Brilliant Recorded Legacy of

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young

  (Item #: allcsny) 



Recordings featuring the work of David Crosby
Recordings featuring the work of Stephen Stills
Recordings featuring the work of Graham Nash
Recordings featuring the work of Neil Young

Some of our favorite engineers worked on the albums of these four men, principally Bill Halverson, as well as...


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The Allman Brothers - The Allman Brothers

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: allmaallma_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first Hot Stamper copy of the Allman's incredible debut to EVER hit the site! This album has some of the ABB's very best music and on a copy like this, sonics, but MAN is it tough to find a good one. We've been picking these up for years and the fact that it took us until 2016 to get any copy at all on the site should tell you something.

More Allman Brothers


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The Association - Goodbye, Columbus

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: assocgoodb_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This green label original pressing TROUNCED our other copies. Recorded by Bones Howe, the midrange is pure tubey magic! If you have the kind of system that brings out that quality in a recording, you will get a lot out of this one. It’s so good, it made me appreciate some of the instrumentals on the album which I had previously dismissed as filler. When you hear them sound this good, you can actually enjoy them!

You get rich, sweet, open, textured, natural, tonally correct sound here on side, A++ all the way! Side two is almost as good at A+, with some smear causing us to drop the grade.

And it’s quiet!



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The Band - The Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: band_band_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Holy mother of god, this is one KNOCKOUT copy of The Band's self-titled masterpiece! Both sides earned our top grade of A+++ and beat the pants off every other copy -- including quite a few RL-mastered originals -- in the shootout. On top of that, both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus, which is pretty dan quiet for this album. We love this music, but most copies out there have flimsy sound, trashed vinyl, or both. Here's the exceedingly rare copy that does just about everything right WITHOUT the typical crackly campfire surface noise!

More by The Band


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The Band - The Band

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: band_band_depth_) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Band's second album.

The best copies have no trace of phony sound from top to bottom. They're raw and real in a way that makes most pop records sound processed and wrong. Our best Hot Stampers have plenty of the qualities we look for in The Band. Energy, presence, transparency, Tubey Magic... you name it -- you will find it there. The biggest strength of this recording is its wonderful, natural midrange. And tons of bass.

More from The Band


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

Our First Shootout Winner (2007)

  (Item #: beatlabbey_2007) 



This Minty Apple British Import pressing has MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE! We just finished a big Abbey Road shootout (1/16/07) and this side one was IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN!

This is the first Hot Stamper Abbey Road we’ve ever listed ... and there's a good reason for that. It's practically impossible to find a properly mastered copy. For whatever reasons -- probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks -- Abbey Road is the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles' catalog.

More Abbey Road


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlabbey_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Abbey Road.

Those of you who follow the site (or do your own shootouts) know that it’s much tougher to find great copies of Abbey Road than it is for MMT or Please Please Me. Most of the copies we’ve played just aren’t good enough to put on the site. For whatever reasons -- probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks -- Abbey Road is arguably the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles' catalog.

More Abbey Road


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

A Fun and Easy Test: MoFi Versus Apple

  (Item #: beatlabbey_mofi_test) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

There is a relatively simple test you can use to find out if you have a good Mobile Fidelity pressing of Abbey Road. Yes, as shocking as it may seem, they actually do exist, we've played them, but they are few and far between (and never as good as the best Brits).

More Abbey Road


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

We Was Wrong -- The MoFi Can Sound Great!

  (Item #: beatlabbey_mofi_wrong) 



This Minty MoFi is the Killer MFSL Abbey Road of All Time. We’ve never done a shootout like this in the history of Better Records. Picture it: five Mobile Fidelity copies of Abbey Road, ostensibly identical limited editions, pressed on premium virgin vinyl in Japan. Longtime readers of the site will not be surprised to learn that they all sound different, and in very different ways.

Why is this shootout a first? Simple: we never had five open copies in stock at any one time. Having done a big shootout for the Brit copies in January (2007), we knew how good this album could sound. How would the MoFi stack up to the best Brits? We decided to find out.

More Abbey Road


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The Beatles - Past Masters Volumes 1 & 2

Digital Remastering at its Worst

  (Item #: beatlpastm_2010) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

The '90s import pressings of this album are bright and aggressive and very digital sounding, but if you want better sounding versions of these songs you're gonna have to buy a lot of albums to find them.

All the songs that aren't on the original 13 British albums, so for those of you with the MOFI Beatles box, this gives you all the tracks you don't have.


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George Benson - Other Side of Abbey Road

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: bensoother_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

An A++ side one backed with an A+++ side two! We just shot out a bunch of these and this copy finished way ahead of the pack. George Benson and a top-notch backing crew (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Ray Baretto, Freddie Hubbard and many more) knock these jazzy Abbey Road covers out of the park, and Rudy Van Gelder did a great job putting it to tape. Of course not every pressing sounds good, but the best copies like this one are killer!

More George Benson


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George Benson - Tell It Like It Is

A&M Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: bensotellit_debunk_) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Debunked.

The Half-Speed is pretty -- pretty lifeless if you ask me, in the way that so many Half-Speed mastered records are. It’s cut very clean, but until you play a good A&M pressing, you don’t know how much meat has been stripped from the bones. The best A&M pressings sound like a Rudy Van Gelder recording, which, of course, they are.

More George Benson


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Blind Faith - Blind Faith

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: blindblind_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This early British pressing SLAUGHTERED all the other pressings we played it against! It's the Blind Faith you’ve been waiting for: Tubey Magical, Transparent, full of Life and Energy -- dear friends, it’s all here! And the vinyl is some of the quietest we've ever heard for this album.

Sick of buying one harsh, thin, distorted, murky LP after another in a vain attempt to find a copy that reminds you of why you LOVED this record so much when it came out back in 1969?

More Blind Faith


 
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Advances in Playback Technology

More Than Blind Faith

  (Item #: blindblind_advances) 



In a 2007 commentary for the Hot Stamper pressing of Blind Faith we noted that

When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT. Like Layla or Surrealistic Pillow, this is no demo disc by any stretch of the imagination, but that should hardly keep us from enjoying the music. And now we have the record that lets us do it.

More Blind Faith


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Blind Faith - Blind Faith

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: blindblind_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

Our latest shootout this time around (07/09) left us with a fairly large serving of egg on our face concerning the commentary we had written for the MoFi pressing of Blind Faith, a textbook example of We Was Wrong.

It’s rich and sweet with SHOCKINGLY GOOD SOUND. MFSL did a masterful job with this one, I’d put it in the top 10 MOFIs of all-time!
I regret to say none of that is true.
More Blind Faith


 
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Blood, Sweat and Tears

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: bloodblood_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. I may be biased by the fact that I like the music so much; nevertheless, on a big stereo a Hot Stamper pressing like the one is nothing less than ASTOUNDING. It has the power of LIVE MUSIC. You don’t find that on a record too often, practically never in fact. I put this record at the top of The Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time List for good reason -- it’s in a class of its own.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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David Bowie - Space Oddity

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bowiespace_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

One of the reasons the song "Space Oddity" sounds so amazing is that it was produced by none other than Gus Dudgeon, the man behind all the best Elton John records. It has Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements as well. His work on Elton's self-titled album is awe-inspiring; we know of none better.

More David Bowie


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Brahms and Dvorak / Serenades / Kertesz

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brahmseren_6594_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6594) has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which is where the Dvorak Serenade for 10 wind instruments, cello and bass can be found. It has lovely space and depth, with dead on tonality and lots of Tubey Magic.

If you love the sound of wind instruments (and who doesn't? British Band Classics springs immediately to mind as one of the most enjoyable classical recordings I own), then this just may be the classical chamber recording for you.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Bread - Bread

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: breadbread_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Side two of Bread's debut here -- the one that shows the heaviest influence of The Beatles, this being 1969 -- is smoother, silkier, and sweeter than any copy we've EVER played. There's TONS of life and energy and the clarity and resolution are nothing short of superb. The sound is clean and clear without losing any of the Tubey Magical Warmth we prize so highly here at Better Records. The bottom end here is deep and punchy with stellar definition. Side two rates an A++ to A+++, the best we've heard. (It may not get any better.) Bruce Botnick only recorded one album with Bread but it's clearly one of the best sounding in their catalog, no surprise there.

More Bread


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The Byrds - Ballad of Easy Rider

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: byrdsballa_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first White Hot copy of this great Byrds album -- 4 stars on Allmusic -- to EVER hit the site, and it's a killer Triple Triple copy! Anyone who has played the typical copy of this album is probably familiar with the dull, lifeless, opaque sound that plagues most pressings. We collect these in bulk (natch) and it's disappointing how mediocre most copies sound.

See all of our Byrds albums in stock


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Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash at San Quentin

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: cash_atsan_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This Columbia 360 Label pressing has TWO WONDERFUL SIDES and quiet vinyl. We just finished a big shootout for this great album and this copy was a MAJOR step up from most of them we played, particularly on side two. It's of course not the world's greatest recording (San Quentin is not quite Olympic Studios) but on a Hot Stamper copy the sound can actually be very good.

More Johnny Cash


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Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority

Our Shootout Winner for 2008

  (Item #: chicachica1_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is the BEST SOUNDING CHICAGO RECORD we have EVER heard, and that includes not just this first album, but ANY Chicago album. This is the kind of album that most audiophiles would be sorely tempted to give up on. Who can blame them?

More Chicago


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Amazing Demo Discs for Bass

Peter Cetera and Chicago

  (Item #: chicachica1_bass) 



First in a series of Demo Discs for Bass.

Talk about beefy bass; this album is the poster boy for rock solid bottom end. When you have a copy of Chicago's first album with a hot side three you have a Bass Demo Disc LP that's going to rock your world, not to mention the foundation of your house. (How they managed to get the bass so right and screw up so many other things I will never know.)

More Chicago


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Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: chicachica1_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Chicago Transit Authority album.

The average copy of this album is an unmitigated DISASTER. The smeary brass alone is enough to drive anyone from the room. To a list of its faults you can confidently add some or all of the following: 1) blobby, blurry, out of control bass; 2) opaque veiled mids; 3) rolled off highs, or no highs, whichever the case may be, common to virtually every pressing you find (cont.)

More Chicago


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Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker (1969)

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: cockejoeco_1969_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

I put this album up against the best Cocker has ever made. He released both of his first two albums in 1969, strikingly reminiscent of another band we revere, Led Zeppelin. (Small world: Jimmy Page plays on Cocker's first release.)

The consistently high quality of the material is another reason this album has to be considered a Must Own. Did Cocker ever release an album with more good songs than these? On side one alone you'll find Dear Landlord; Bird on the Wire; She Came in Through the Bathroom Window; and Hitchcock Railway. On side two: Something; Delta Lady; Hello, Little Friend; and Darling Be Home Soon.

More Joe Cocker


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The Joe Cocker You Don't Know

With A Little Help From My Friends

  (Item #: cockewitha_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Cocker's MASTERPIECE of White Soul, and, sadly, a Classic That's All but Forgotten.

We just finished our first shootout in over FIVE years for the album and were SHOCKED by how amazing the best copies can sound, even better than we remember them from last time around. Turn this one up good and loud and you’ll have Joe Cocker in all his raspy glory belting out With A Little Help From My Friends right in your very own listening room!

More Joe Cocker


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Joe Cocker - With a Little Help From My Friends

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: cockewitha_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner releases. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"Speakers corner knocks one out of the park with this wonderful reissue! Those conga drums and the back-up singers sound so much better than I remember them! If you''re going to own one Joe Cocker album make it this one. It's a man-size serving of English Soul."

More Joe Cocker


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Leonard Cohen - Songs From A Room

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: cohensongs_from_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish. The sound on this 360 Label LP is incredibly big, clean and clear with a solid bottom end and lots of space around all of the instruments.

More Leonard Cohen / More Singer Songwriter albums


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Cream - Goodbye

Some of the Best Live Rock Sound Ever Recorded

  (Item #: creamgoodb_2016) 



When you get a good side one of Goodbye you'll hear exactly why we are calling it one of the Best Sounding Live Rock Albums of all time.

Goodbye has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. The top copies just plain ROCK HARDER than all the others. Yes, they're bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top. But what really sets them apart is the tremendous Energy they contain in their grooves. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies like practically nothing you have ever heard.

More Cream


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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bayou Country

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: creedbayou_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is the first White Hot Stamper copy of Bayou Country to ever hit the site. We were shocked at how good this one sounds -- on both sides -- compared to the copies we've heard over the years. It is TOUGH to find a pressing of this album that didn't turn out bright and edgy, but here's one that was worth the headache of playing a ton of mediocre copies. Seriously, we played a huge stack of these and most had us running for cover.

More Creedence Clearwater


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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: creedgreen_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first White Hot copy of Green River to ever hit the site! We've been trying this one for years but it's insanely tough to find copies that really deliver. Creedence recordings tend to be somewhat rough and raw and this one is no exception, but this copy brought the music to life in a way that very few before it ever have on our system.

More Green River / More Creedence Clearwater


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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy and the Poor Boys

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: creedwilly_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The typical copy of this album is grainy, murky, and veiled -- and that's just for starters. It took us a HUGE stack of copies to find ANY that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy.

See all of our CCR albums in stock


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Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_debunk_) 



Sonic Grade: B-

Nice enough I suppose, but where’s the Midrange Magic?

The Classic 180g version was a revelation when it came out years ago. Bernie actually cut it pretty darn right. However, his mastering chain cannot compete with the one used on the best original pressings.

The evidence for this is overwhelming. There simply is no Bernie-Grundman-cut record that is the equal of the best pressings not cut on his current chain that I have heard over the years. (His old cutting system, the one that cut Stardust and Blue and much of the Contemporary catalog, was KILLER. Wonder what happened to it?)

See more of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's albums


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Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Crosby, Stills & Nash's first album.

Although millions of copies of this album were sold, so few were mastered and pressed well, and so many mastered and pressed poorly, that few copies actually make it to the site as Hot Stampers. We wish that were not the case -- we love the album -- but the copies we know to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound are just not sitting around in the record bins these days.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Detail on Crosby Stills and Nash’s First Album

Holy Grail or Audio Trap?

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_detail) 



Detail may be the Holy Grail to most audiophiles, but detail can be a trap we all too easily fall into if we are not careful. Tonal balance is the key. Without it no judgments about detail have any real value.

One example: As good as the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing is, the guitar at the opening of Helplessly Hoping tells you everything you need to know about what’s missing. The guitar on the Hot Stamper domestic copies has a transparency that cannot be found on Classic’s version. The Classic gets the tonal balance right, but their guitar doesn’t have the subtlety and harmonic resolution of the real thing.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Crosby, Stills & Nash on Nautilus

THE Most Bloated Bass in Half Speed History

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_nr_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

An audiophile record dealer (of course; who else?) once raved to me about Crosby Stills and Nash on Nautilus. I said "What are you talking about? That version sucks!" He replied "No, it’s great. Helplessly Hoping sounds amazing."

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Crosby Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Critical Listening Exercise (WTLF)

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_test) 



This commentary from an older Hot Stamper listing for CSN’s debut makes note of some specific qualities in the recording that are a good test for midrange transparency and naturalness.

What’s magical about Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young)?

Their voices of course. It’s not a trick question. They revolutionized rock music with their genius for harmony. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no value whatsoever. A CSN record with bad midrange -- like most of them -- is a worthless record.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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VTA Adjustment on Crosby Stills and Nash

Using the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP (2005)

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_vta_200) 



This listing contains commentary about VTA adjustment for 200 gram vinyl, using the CSN track Helplessly Hoping.

Helplessly Hoping is a wonderful song with plenty of energy in the midrange and upper midrange area which is difficult to get right. Just today (4/25/05) I was playing around with VTA, having recently installed a new Dynavector DV-20x on my playgrading table (a real sweetheart, by the way), and this song showed me EXACTLY how to get the VTA right.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - So Far

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: crosbsofar_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

We've put together two Shootout Winning White Hot Stamper sides to give you the ultimate So Far. It took two separate records to do it, however, as most copies of the album do not rise above the level of mediocre, and mediocre is not what we sell here at Better Records.

The killer sides here sound like they are made from the MASTER TAPE. They trounced any and all comers during the shootout. No other copies earned Three Pluses, only these two.

More So Far / More CSN&Y


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - So Far

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbsofar_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of So Far.

For example, on Find the Cost of Freedom the best copies have DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. You could say everything that needs to be said about the beauty of analog with this one track alone. It's not even two minutes long, but it's two really wonderful minutes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at the height of their powers. The voices should sound as sweet and as silky as any CSN three part (four part?) harmony you have ever heard. This song rivals Helplessly Hoping for vocal blend.

More So Far


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VTA Adjustment

Helplessly Hoping to Get It Right

  (Item #: crosbsofar_wtlf) 



This listing from 2005 (!) contains commentary about Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) adjustment using the track Helplessly Hoping from a Hot Stamper pressing of CSN’s So Far.
More So Far / More CSN&Y


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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Music Does the Driving

  (Item #: crosbstillsandnash_overview) 



Of course it's easy to argue that finding good sound on an album with two or more members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, in any configuration, has never been easy. It's the rare copy of either of the first two albums that's even listenable, and the CSN album from 1977 doesn't sound nearly as good as any of the first three Crosby/Nash albums. Which simply means that the "good" sound of our Hot Stamper copies is far better than what most audiophiles own of any of these guys in combination.
See all of our Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums in stock


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Miles Davis - In A Silent Way

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: davisinasi_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Sit down with this record, draw the blinds, and you’ll hear why AMG gave it 5 Stars. Perhaps it’s the extended solos from John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock Wayne Shorter, and Davis himself. Perhaps it’s the slippery, spiraling nature of these signature jazz fusion epic pieces. Perhaps it’s the grooves that Tony Williams and Dave Holland spin, slowly at first, building later in each of the LP’s mesmerizing tracks.

See all of our Miles Davis albums in stock


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: doorssoftp_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that's very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can't be beat.

More of The Doors


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Rhino Box Set Pressing Debunked

  (Item #: doorssoftp_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

A Gold Label original pressing blew out minds not long ago, after whichwe wrote "Need I even mention how much better this copy sounds than the 180g version from the Rhino Box Set, digitally remastered by Bernie Grundman? That thing is just awful, possibly the worst sounding pressing I have ever heard."

More of The Doors


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: doorssoftp_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Soft Parade.

Our latest shootout (4/2014) included a minty Gold Label pressing, which did reasonably well, but not great, on side one. Side two however was OFF THE CHARTS and won the shootout on that side handily. The fact that side one wasn't a knockout is yet more evidence that individual pressings with the same label -- even the "right" label -- vary dramatically in sound.

More of The Doors


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Dvorak/ Symphony No. 7 / Monteux/ LSO

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: dvorasym7_vics_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This fairly quiet (M-) Plum Label Victrola has LOVELY, SPACIOUS, tonally correct sound. Monteux and LSO are wonderful here, so this one gets a top recommendation from Better Records.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: dylannashv_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

STUNNING MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE, BACKED WITH A TOP SHELF SIDE TWO! It ain’t easy to find Hot Stamper copies of this album, but when you play one like this it is worth all the trouble. When Johnny Cash starts singing, it is positively chilling. That's the Man In Black, folks, and the immediacy of this copy puts him right there in the room with you!

More Bob Dylan


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Bob Dylan Listening Test

Here’s One to Wet Your Whistle

  (Item #: dylannashv_wtlf) 



Presenting today’s Home Audio Exercise. Play your copy of Nashville Skyline -- on speakers, no fair cheating on headphones! -- and see if you can answer this question. At the beginning of one of the songs on this album two sounds are heard, neither of which is produced by an instrument, but could be said to have been produced by a singer. What are these two mysterious sounds?

If you have a good copy of the record, a good stereo and the ability to listen critically, you should have no problem figuring out what these sounds are. When you do, drop us an email. Until we come up with a better prize, for now we can offer you an extra 10% off your next order.

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Duke Ellington - Up In Duke's Workshop

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: ellinupind_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

The notes for this shootout winning side one read: "lively, big, present, with great bass" and that's the way we like our Big Band to sound!

The first track on side two is not quite up to the standard set by some of the other pieces here but by track two or three all is well sound-wise.

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Fairport Convention - Unhalfbricking

Simply Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: fairpunhal_simply_vinyl) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Simply Vinyl recuts. We haven't played a copy of it in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway. "This 180 gram LP comes recommended, with very good English sound (smooth, rich) for this early Richard Thompson folk music, with the wonderful Sandy Denny on vocals. Happily, not your standard audiophile fare."

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Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: fairpwhatw_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This RARE Island Sunray British Import LP has Super Hot Stamper sound, full of the Tubey Magic you expect from a British Folk album in 1969 (and the unavoidable sonic shortcomings you should expect if you know much about this band and their records). It's without a doubt the nicest copy we have ever seen, the acquisition of which was purely a matter of luck, as early pressings are virtually impossible to find in anything but beat-to-death condition.

The "haunting, ethereal" vocals of the lovely Sandy Denny (or Alexandra Elene McLean Denny as she's listed on the sleeve) are sublime on this British early copy.

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

The Self-Titled First Album & English Rose

  (Item #: fleetblack_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1971.

You just can't write better songs than Love That Burns or Black Magic Woman, both of which can be found here. And Albatross, the mellow instrumental that closes out side four, was a Number One hit in the UK in 1969, can you believe it? It was backed on some releases by Need Your Love So Bad, another one of our all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. The band was on fire back when Peter Green was at the helm. These two LPs are proof enough.

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Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: fleetgreat_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including an incredible A+++ side one! The transparency and lack of distortion are shocking, and the clarity and presence are out of this world. If you're a fan of early Fleetwood Mac, this copy will blow you away. Nothing else in our shootout came close.

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Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits

What to Listen For - Punchy Drums

  (Item #: fleetgreat_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Many pressings are compressed, murky, veiled and recessed, especially the early ones. To find one that is transparent, clear, present and punchy is no mean feat.

On either side listen for the drums to punch through the mix.

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Fleetwood Mac - The Pious Bird Of Good Omen

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: fleetpious_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

If you're a fan of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac -- and who in his right mind wouldn't be -- then you can't go wrong with this record. Need Your Love So Bad, Albratross and Black Magic Woman are all featured here.

Speaking of Black Magic Woman, the best copies of Pious Bird reproduce the bass-heavy drumming on that track much better than the Greatest Hits album we also recommend. It's very unlikely that you can find better sound for that classic than right here on this very copy.

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Ted Heath And His Music - The Big Ones

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: heathbigon_2006) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a WONDERFUL SOUNDING, VERY LIVELY big band record, putatively under the direction of Ted Heath. I suspect he had nothing to do with this album though. What it sounds like is top studio musicians playing fun, clever arrangements of the pop songs that were current at the time. It reminds me of what Lincoln Mayorga and his buddies were doing direct-to-disc over at Sheffield. (The sound is as almost as good too.)

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Jimi Hendrix - Crash Landing

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hendrcrash_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO GREAT TRIPLE PLUS SIDES on this original Reprise pressing! This is one of those somewhat controversial posthumous Hendrix albums, but it's hard to argue with the quality of the best tracks on here, like the great Message To Love. I'm not going to go out on a limb and say this is a must-own album, but Hendrix fans will certainly find much to like here. We played a big stack of copies and most of them weren't worth our time; a copy like this one lets you appreciate Jimi's craft without mediocre sound getting in the way.

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Jimi Hendrix - Hendrix In The West

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hendrinthe_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We're still surprised at how well recorded the album is, and a pressing like this allows you to really hear the live Jimi Guitar God Magic.

Rock and roll Legend EDDIE KRAMER, the man who engineered these live recordings, really knocked it out of the park. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.

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Mary Hopkin - Post Card

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hopkipostc_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This British original pressing has a White Hot side two and a nearly White Hot side one. Side two is unbelievably huge and open in a way that no other side of any copy could touch. It's taken us close to ten years to find enough clean copies with which to do this shootout. Engineered by Ken Scott, Donovan's "Lord of the Reedy River" is simply amazing on this copy.


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It’s A Beautiful Day - It’s A Beautiful Day

  (Item #: itsabitsab_2012) 



This Super Hot Stamper Red Label pressing gives you most of the 360 Label's rich, Tubey Magical sound, and that's saying a lot; most red label pressings of this record are absolute junk. In fact, about half of the side ones are in MONO -- how about that! Who knew, right?

Going through our clean 360 label pressings (which aren't cut quite as loud by the way so watch out when doing your own shootouts), we found one that was better and one that was worse. Others were just too noisy. This red label pressing was BY FAR THE BEST of the red label reissues, with A++ sound on both sides that frankly took us by surprise. As we so often say, Who knew? Now that we've heard red labels that sound this good we are on the hunt! They can be found, and they're usually not in trashed condition the way the 360s are.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Notes from 2006

  (Item #: jethrstand_2006) 



This Island Pink Label Original British pressing has ABSOLUTELY AMAZING SOUND! We mention that there was a Sunray pressing that may have been even better, but I didn’t have this copy in hand to compare the Sunray to, so I can’t be sure that pressing was any better. This one sounds as good as any I've ever heard.

It's amazingly dynamic and powerful, yet full of tubey magic. I played almost ten different pressings of this record today (11/08/06): every domestic label variation and a handful of imports. This copy is clearly the best of the batch.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Notes from 2009

  (Item #: jethrstand_2009) 



A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

Our last shootout for Stand Up was over a year ago, early in 2008. By some good fortune we have been able to find a number of fairly clean early British pressings, with both Pink and Sunray labels, as well as some very good sounding domestics. (Yes, they are out there. Few and far between and probably not the ones you would think to buy but out there nonetheless. Buy enough of them and clean them right and you will find some too.)

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Jethro Tull's Stand Up

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: jethrstand_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

It's very common for pressings of Stand Up to lack bass or highs, and more often than not they lack both. The bass-shy ones tend to be more transparent and open sounding -- of course, that's the sound you get when you take out the bass. (90 plus percent of all the audiophile stereos I've ever heard were bass shy, no doubt for precisely that reason: less bass equals more detail, more openness and more transparency. Go to any stereo store or audiophile show and notice how bright the sound is.)

Just what good is a British Classic Rock Record that lacks bass? It won't rock, and if it don't rock, who needs it? You might as well be playing the CD.

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Elton John - Empty Sky

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: john_empty_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The undiscovered gem in the Elton John catalog! This original British Import demonstrates just how good a recording this is. The sound is excellent and the music is surprisingly good -- and weird in a fun way! It certainly bears little relation to the middle-of-the-road pop songs Elton's been making since the '80s. These guys were young and figuring out their sound here, and this album takes Elton to some pretty interesting places. A fun debut album that is certainly worth a listen if you're a fan of the classic albums that were soon to follow.

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Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: jopliigotd_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Columbia 360 Label White Hot Stamper pressing is THE CURE for Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues! This side one takes the album to places only hinted at on the other copies we played. Drop the needle on the great song Try and just listen to how crisp, punchy, and BIG the drums sound. When Janis starts singing, watch out -- her voice positively JUMPS out of the speakers, something we didn’t experience on many other copies. The bottom end has real weight and the top end is silky and extended. The overall sound is richer, fuller, and smoother than any side one we’ve ever played.

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Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

What to Listen For

  (Item #: jopliigotd_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

ENERGY is the key element missing from the average copy, but not on this bad boy (or girl if you prefer). The electric guitars are super Tubey Magical and the bass is solid and punchy.

On many copies -- too many copies -- the vocals are pinched and edgy. Here they're breathy and full -- a much better way for Janis to sound. There's a slight amount of grit to the vocals at times and the brass as well, but the life force on these sides is so strong that we much preferred it to the smoother, duller, deader copies we heard that didn't have that issue.

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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kingcinthe_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Over the last five years or so we have been prepping for this shootout by buying and trying lots of different pressings. Right from the start we could hear that no domestic pressing was, or was likely to ever be, remotely competitive with the best Brits.

Most later reissues -- domestic or import -- were as flat and lifeless as a cassette, although we admit that some were clearly better than others.

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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

A Good Pressing from Mobile Fidelity

  (Item #: kingcinthe_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

The MoFi pressing shown here is surely one of their best. Unfortunately we have little tolerance for the dynamic compression, overall lifelessness and wonky bass heard on practically every record they ever remastered. One of the reasons your MoFi might not sound wrong to you is that it isn't really "wrong." It's doing most things right, and it will probably beat most of what you can find to throw at it. But it's lacking some important qualities, and a listen to one of our Hot Stampers will allow you to hear exactly what you're not getting when you play an audiophile pressing, even one as good as MoFi's.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I

Our Shootout Winner from 2007 (a Long Time Ago!)

  (Item #: ledze1_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW HARD THIS ZEP I ROCKS! It’s exceedingly tough to find great copies of this album, which is why you’ve never seen a Hot Stamper copy on the site before. We went through more than two dozen copies looking for The Real Sound, and this copy’s got it big time... ON BOTH SIDES!

More Zep 1 / More Led Zeppelin


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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: ledze1_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

It's hard to imagine any copy beating this one! The vinyl is Mint Minus throughout, and the sound is INSANELY GOOD! The chances of finding these surfaces with this sound -- we'll let you do the math. If you're a fan of this album - and who isn't - this is the copy you want. Side one blew our minds and earned a grade of A++++!

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

Classic Records Reviewed and Recommended

  (Item #: ledze1_classic) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP reviewed.

Considering how bad (or at best mediocre) the average copy of the first Zep album sounds, let's give credit where credit is due and say that Bernie's remastered version on Heavy Vinyl is darn good (assuming you get a good one, something of course that neither I nor you should assume).

It's without a doubt the best of all the Classic Zeppelin titles, most of which we found none too pleasing to the ear.

More Zep 1 / More Led Zeppelin


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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: ledze2_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This pressing just knocked us out from beginning to end -- this is the Zep II sound you want.

At least 80% of the copies we buy these days -- for many hundreds of dollars each I might add -- go right back to the seller. The biggest problem we run into besides obvious scratches that play and worn out grooves is easy to spot: just play the song Thank You at the end of side one. Most of the time there is inner groove damage so bad that the track becomes virtually unlistenable.

See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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Led Zeppelin - II

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledze2_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

An absolute DISASTER -- ridiculously bright, ridiculously crude, in short, a completely unlistenable piece of garbage.

Over the years we have done many Led Zeppelin shootouts, often including the Classic Heavy Vinyl Pressings as a "reference". After all, the Classic pressings are considered by many -- if not most -- audiophiles to be superior to other pressings. If you don't believe me go to the forums and read for yourself.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: ledze2_loud) 



It's official: we're inaugurating a Top Ten Best Sounding Rock / Pop Album List, and the first member to be inducted is none other than our old favorite, Led Zeppelin II.

It's also yet another in a very long line of records that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. We're convinced Zep II has to be the hardest rocking album of all time. The best copies -- often with the same stampers as the not-as-good copies by the way -- have a LIFE and a POWER to them that simply cannot be found on other records.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: ledze2_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

This pressing has to be one of the worst audiophile remastering jobs in the history of the world. There is NOT ONE aspect of the sound that isn't wrong. Not one! The highs are boosted, the upper midrange is boosted, the mid-bass is boosted, the low bass is missing -- what part of the frequency spectrum is even close to correct on this pressing? The answer: none.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

Triplanar Tracking

  (Item #: ledze2_tracking) 



We all know the famous story by now. Robert Ludwig’s “Hot Mix” (a complete misnomer, mostly propagated by those with an apparently poor understanding of what goes into the sound of a record – the mix never changed, only the mastering) of Zep II was causing the needle to jump the groove when Ahmet Ertegun’s daughter tried to play it on her cheap turntable, so they recut the record with more compression and cut the bass.
More on Led Zeppelin II


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Henry Mancini - A Warm Shade of Ivory

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: manciawarm_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

With THE BEST side one we have ever played, backed with a side two that's very nearly as good, this is a very special copy indeed! This copy was getting everything right on side one. Wide and deep stage, smooth but textured strings, background vocalists who take breaths, room around the piano, clear attack, it's all here.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs. More about that later.

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John McLaughlin - Extrapolation

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: mclauextra_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

INCREDIBLY POWERFUL AND DYNAMIC DEMO QUALITY SOUND THROUGHOUT! If you're looking for a jazz-fusion guitar album that will wake your system up (and show off its best qualities to boot), this is the hot ticket right here. We had been slowly compiling various pressings for a big shootout for ages, and we finally let it rip recently. This was one of the most impressive pressings, earning an A++ on side one and an A+++ on side two. If you're a fan of '70s Miles Davis or the Birds Of Fire album, you probably already know that you need this in your collection!

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Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Crystal Illusions

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mendecryst_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A White Hot Stamper side one on this A&M LP means it's the BEST sounding copy of Crystal Illusions to ever hit the site. Yes, it's a recording that has many problems, but the best copies seem to be able to overcome most of them, and that's precisely what we are offering here: a White Hot copy that gets the sound of this music about as right as it's going to get. And the vinyl is QUIET.

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Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Ye-Me-Le

our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: mendeyemel_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

THE BEST SIDE ONE WE’VE HEARD! It’s big and bold, with dramatically less grit and grain than the average copies. This White Hot Ye-Me-Le has MINDBLOWING, YOU ARE THERE IMMEDIACY and MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one. The sound is punchy and lively with wonderful transparency. You can really hear the sound of the room around the musicians! Many of the tracks on this copy are DEMO DISC quality.

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Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Ye-Me-Le

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: mendeyemel_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Ye-Me-Le.

The first three tracks on side 1 are the best reason to own this album, especially the first two (Wichita Lineman and Norwegian Wood), which are as good as anything the group ever did. I'm a big fan so that has to be seen as high praise indeed.

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Joni Mitchell - Clouds

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: mitchcloud_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The clarity and transparency on this ALL-TIME CHAMPION for Clouds allow the raw emotion of Joni’s performances come through like never before.

The intimacy of the recording is simply breathtaking. You have not begun to hear these songs with this kind of realism and power unless, like us, you've cleaned and played scores and scores of copies and have lucked into that one freakishly good side one that sounds like you just threaded up the master tape and hit Play.

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Thelonious Monk - Monk's Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: monk_monks_blues_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WONDERFUL BIG BAND MUSIC, DEMO QUALITY SOUND, and QUIET VINYL! I wish more Blue Note records had this kind of sound -- natural, full-bodied, and sweet up top. The bass here is well-defined with real weight and lots of punch. Monk’s piano sounds correct from the highest notes all the way down to the lower register, and the sax sounds JUST RIGHT -- totally free of the "RVG squawk" we often hear on old Blue Notes. The clarity and transparency are superb throughout.

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The Moody Blues - On The Threshold Of A Dream

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: moodyonthe_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

ONE OF THE BEST SIDE ONES WE’VE EVER HEARD! A pressing like this brings all the psychedelic Moody Blues magic to life in your living room. The richness, sweetness, and warmth on this one give you exactly the sound you want for this wild music.

You get LOVELY TUBEY MAGIC and SUPERB CLARITY on this Deram British Import LP! The sound is cleaner, clearer, richer, sweeter, and more present that you could have imagined in your wildest dreams!

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The Moody Blues - On The Threshold Of A Dream

Nautilus Reviewed

  (Item #: moodyonthe_5821) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Half Speed debunked.

The Nautilus half-speed is actually very good but it sure doesn't sound like a good British pressing. Their mastering robs the music of some essential energy, ambience, and warmth. Those of you with budget front-ends will find the Nautilus to be very enjoyable, but if you've put a lot of time, energy, and money into your system then there is no substitute for The Real Thing.

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The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: moodytoour_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Decca original British pressing has TWO STUNNING SIDES! The sound is incredibly lively and dynamic with the kind of top end extension that's missing from most copies (of any Moody Blues album). Most aren't nearly this airy, open or spacious. The bottom end is strong with nice weight and great bass definition. The vocals are big and solid.

You get amazing richness, fullness and warmth on these sides, which is exactly what you want for the Moodies' music. Nothing else in our shootout came close to this side two, which of course is why it won the shootout.

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The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children

Listening In Depth

  (Item #: moodytoour_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Moody Blues records.

Moody Blues albums tend to be murky, congested and dull. Listening to the typical pressing you'd be forgiven for blaming the band or the engineers for the problem, but our best copies suggest otherwise. No, these albums are never going to have the kind of clear, clean, super high-rez sound most audiophiles prize, but that's clearly not what the Moody Blues were aiming for.

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Harry Nilsson - Harry

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssharry_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from one of our favorite singer songwriters of the last fifty years, Mr. Harry Nilsson.

This forgotten gem sank like a stone in 1969, but time has treated this album well; it stil holds up. The production is superb throughout. Judging by this early Nilsson's album, it appears he was already a pro in the studio, as well as an accomplished songwriter, and, more importantly, the owner of one of the sweetest tenors in popular music, then or now.

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Pentangle - Basket Of Light

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: pentabaske_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is only the second Transatlantic British pressing of Pentangle's third album to hit the site, and it's an exceptionally good one, with Super Hot Stamper sound or something close to it on both sides. It's also the quietest copy we have ever offered, with impossibly-rare mostly Mint Minus surfaces.

The British Tubey Magic you would expect is here, of course, along with what sounds like Gregorian chant and what is definitely a sitar. Now I ask you, how can you go wrong with a mix of English Folk Rock, Gregorian chant and sitar?

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Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslfrome_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Of the handful of Elvis albums to ever make it to the site this is clearly the critics' favorite, and one listen will tell you why. This is the album that single-handedly revived Elvis' fortunes, setting the stage for his record-breaking series of shows in Las Vegas doing pretty much the type of music he had recorded for it. The next year he would go on tour for the first time since 1957 (!).

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Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: preslfrome_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: B-? C+?

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

I first heard From Elvis in Memphis the way I heard so many albums back in the late '70s and early '80s: on the Mobile Fidelity pressing. I was an audiophile record collector in 1981 and if MoFi was impressed enough with the sound and the music to remaster it and offer it to their dedicated fans, of which I was clearly one, then who was I to say no to an album I had never heard? (Soon enough I would learn my lesson about MoFi's A&R department. The MoFi release of Supersax Plays Bird, a record that had virtually nothing going for it, was the last time I took their advice.)

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Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: preslfrome_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl remasters. (Probably. It's been a very long time since I played it.)

Speakers Corner did the album in 2003 and if memory serves I liked it and recommended it at the time. I rather doubt I could stand it now. I have much less tolerance now for the vague imaging, lack of ambience and overall lifeless quality their records invariably suffer from than I did then.

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Prokofiev / Romeo and Juliet / Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: prokoromeo_1412_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

Superb Sound on this Victrola pressing, with TRANSPARENCY, spaciousness and low level detail you will not believe. And plenty of Living Stereo COLOR.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you're demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing space, depth and width can be heard on this side one. And the music is sublime.

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Ravel / Piano Concertos / Haas

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: ravelpiano_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This Philips recording from 1970 on exceptionally quiet Dutch vinyl has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on side one for one of Ravel's best known piano works, the Piano Concerto in G. Most Philips records are much too thick, dull and opaque to be taken seriously, by us anyway. (In this respect they have many sonic attributes in common with Londons from the '70s and '80s.)

Dropping the needle on this pressing, however, was a pleasant surprise. It's big and spacious on side one, with zero smear on a piano that is both full and clear.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)


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The Recordings of Lou Rawls

These Are Some that Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: rawls_lou) 



These are just some of the recordings by Lou Rawls that we've auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Lou Rawls Albums with Hot Stampers

Lou Rawls Albums We've Reviewed



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Renaissance - Renaissance

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: renairenai_2012) 



Prog fans take note: this is one AMAZING sounding recording.

And why shouldn't it be? It's engineered by ANDY JOHNS (Led Zeppelin II and many more) and produced by Paul Samwell-Smith (Cat Stevens!), so its audiophile credentials are more than in order. Some of the best recordings we have ever heard involved one of these guys, and on this one you get them both. That's almost too much production talent for one album.

More Prog Rock


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Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: rolliletit_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This is, IMHO, the second or third best record the Stones ever made. (Sticky Fingers is Number One, and either this or Beggar's Banquet comes in a strong second.) With this pressing we can now hear the power and the beauty of this superb recording.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I've mentioned how good this song sounds -- thanks to Glyn Johns, of course -- but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

More Rolling Stones


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The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: rolliletit_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I've mentioned how good this song sounds -- thanks to Glyn Johns, of course -- but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It's also our favorite test track for side one. The first minute or so clues you into to everything that's happening in the sound.

More Rolling Stones


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